Does it Make Sense to Make a Trailer for a Short Film? Here's Why We Made One for AMATEUR
My Q&A about MANCHILD (and its prequel short AMATEUR) just went live on my favorite sports/movie website, Grantland (if you like it, please click "Recommend"at the bottom of their article!). Grantland is ESPN's in-depth, long-form journalism spin-off that features movies alongside sports coverage, which made it my #1 target for AMATEUR. Most sports websites, however, are accustomed to posting a quick highlight clip or an animated .gif. Thus, to spread the short to other sports sites, we're doing a couple of things: one, releasing the short on YouTube, and two, cutting a 15-second teaser that (hopefully) whets the appetite. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again (with a different strategy). Here's the new teaser:
Joe Hubbard, a No Film School reader and editor at an LA-based trailer house, downloaded the Vimeo file from when I first released AMATEUR and, on his own, cut a teaser and sent it to me. I loved the rhythm of the piece and immediately scrapped my own plans to cut a preview. Thanks Joe!
If you haven't seen the short prequel I made for MANCHILD in order to help raise additional financing to make the feature, here's the full short AMATEUR, which had a great run as a Vimeo Staff Pick and has been featured on Filmmaker Magazine, Indiewire, Short of the Week, Director's Notes, and Shadow & Act. You'll note those are all film websites -- now that the NBA playoffs are over, we're starting a second sports-website push with a new YouTube version:
As for the feature itself, I'm happy to share that we just got into IFP's No Borders co-production market, and will be taking a full slate of meetings about the feature in September. As you can imagine, this short will figure prominently in those meetings. And, as always, I'm working on the script constantly. I've also been taking copious notes on the things I'm learning by releasing a short online, many of which relate to Short of the Week's post about film festivals that take online shorts, and I look forward to sharing those lessons learned once we're a bit further in the process.
I'm always interested in who's reading No Film School and what kind of film work they (you) are doing, so I followed-up with the editor of the teaser, Joe Hubbard, and asked him some questions about cutting trailers and working at a trailer house.
Q&A with Editor Joe Hubbard
NFS: What's your background? How did you get started in film?
JH: I worked in retail for many years but always had a love for the arts. Started with sketching and painting which evolved into basic music production. Eventually, I moved to film production, shooting short films with friends. With no schooling, I relied on online tutorials and trial and error to figure it out. Editing came most naturally, so I started to focus on that full time.
NFS: Were you always interested in trailers or how did it come about that you got hired at a trailer house?
I moved to LA in 2010 and didn't know anyone. I spent the first 6 months or so networking any way I could. As an editor, it's easier to put yourself out there, because all you need is an editing program. So I offered my services pro bono for many months, trying to get better and find that right connection. I ended up meeting a very successful feature editor who became a mentor to me. I never even thought about trailers, but he felt they would best serve my particular skill set. He recommended me and I was able to land a gig. And I have loved it from the start.
NFS: You used the basketball bounce as a kick-drum equivalent in the AMATEUR teaser, and it seems a lot of trailer editors are musicians. How do you approach structuring a preview, do you go with an audio-first approach?
Editing is all about pacing, which is creating a rhythm. Video game trailers are extremely musically driven, so I may cut for days with just music before I even start looking at footage. Features are a bit different because story is such an important element, and different movies may require different approaches.
NFS: Can you easily turn off the "that shot would be good for a trailer" part of your brain when you watch features now or is that just part of watching movies for you?
Yeah, that's not too tough. But I do get a lot of inspiration from great sound design in film. Many times, a particular sound used in a way that jumps out to me might find it's way into a trailer of mine. I try to keep those ideas set aside to use at some point.
NFS: Where can folks find out more information about you and your work?
My site is being redone right now but JoeHubbard.net should be up within the next month.
Here's some additional insights gleaned from Short of the Week's Twitter in response to this post:
Example: @Andrew_T_Huang's scintillating trailer for Solipsist is why we reached out to him to bring that film online. 1.4M views later…— Short of the Week (@ShortoftheWeek) August 5, 2013
1 more trailer tip: Upload new trailer a week in advance of your launch, & list launch date. Curators love to line up content ahead of time.— Short of the Week (@ShortoftheWeek) August 5, 2013
It's a particular challenge to cut a trailer for a short because normal lengths don't apply (you would never want to make a 2:30 trailer for a 10:00 film... thus the short length of ours). Thoughts on our teaser?